Jockeys are the ones responsible for getting the best out of your horse in race. Track King features a form of Artificial Intelligence for the jockeys, allowing them to actually make decisions about how to respond to different situations that they might find themselves in during a race. (See The Race!) It's fair to say that the horses are just the engine, and the jockeys are the drivers.
As you might expect, there are good jockeys and not-as-good jockeys. All of them make decisions to the best of their ability, and sometimes those decisions might be ideal for the horse and race situation. As a general rule, the higher a jockeys' base salary, the higher his potential to make good choices. It's up to you, as an astute Stable Manager, to research the jockeys and find out a bit about them. You can check their career stats to get an idea of what type of track and distance they are most experienced at. Also keep an eye out for their riding style, which shows the things that are most important to that jockey. Watching some of their old races to see how they handled different race situations is often handy to see whether you think they might be suitable for your horses. (See Owners Club)
When jockeys use their Artificial Intelligence to make decisions, they consider the following things - although each jockey has their own ideas about which are most important (as shown in their Racing Style).
Of course, in a race, they jockey does also consider your wishes. You have the opportunity to enter Race Instructions for each of your horses, which will be followed (to a degree!) by every jockey that rides the horse - even apprentices.
During the race, the jockey continually assesses their surroundings, making several "mini-decisions" using their 'riding styles' which all fall into the categories above.. Each one of those mini-decisions are then combined, to try and find which instruction they should give the horse that will satisfy as many of their 'styles' as possible. (See The Race for an example of how a Jockey assesses their surroundings)
Jockeys like to feel good about themselves, and their morale influences how well they will communicate with the horse during a race - and how much attention they pay when you give race instructions for your horse! To keep a jockey feeling good, it's important to allow them many opportunities to race. It's also important to give them a good chance at winning. If you keep putting them on the old gray mare that ain't what she used to be...well....the jockey isn't likely to stay happy long! Jockey morale will start at a higher level if you don't drive their wage down at the start of a contract - it costs more but it could well be worth it?
There are 3 different 'grades' of jockey in Track King:
Contracted jockeys are the 'real deal' - the main sort of jockey you'll find in Track King. They have a name, and can be contracted to many different stables over their career, and will age by one year on the first day of January/April/July/October, just like the horses!
To contract a new jockey to your stable, follow the link named 'Hire a jockey' from the right-hand Page Menu of any 'Stable' page. You will then be able to search the pool of jockeys in Track King, and select from those that would be prepared to race for your Stable (based on the prestige of your stable!), and from there it's just a matter of picking the one you want and organising a contract. Bear in mind that you may only hire jockeys of your own Race Class, and within about 5-6 levels of Prestige to your stable. For example, a highly prestigious jockey is not going to want to negotiate with a 'lowly' stable with a lot lower prestige. The jockey may agree to negotiate with stables of slightly lower prestige, but you can be sure they won't accept much haggling! Negotiate carefully - you can only complete one set of jockey negotiations every 24 hours - whether you managed to successfully sign the jockey or not. Keep an eye on the status of negotiations with the jockey to get an idea how far you can drive their wage down! As a general rule, a jockey with more prestige than your stable are more likely to treat you harshly.
While a jockey is signed to your stable, they are not available to race for any other stable, and will draw a wage from you (in advance) once every week excepting the last week of their contract. On completion of their contract, they will go On Holiday for an indeterminate period - maybe a day, maybe a week....maybe longer?! When they leave your stable, if they're inclined to race with you again, they'll give you an idea of when they intend to return. The better their morale at the termination of the contract, the more likely that they'll make sure they are back on time!
If a jockey employed by your stable has less than 28 days remaining on their contract and you are a member of the Owners Club (See Owners Club), you can negotiate to end the contract early. The jockey will tell you the amount that they want to be paid to finish their contract early, and then it's all up to you! It's not a very prestigious thing to be firing jockeys though...
The Conference Room Specialist Facility will make it possible to attempt to negotiate to extend the jockeys' contract as it epproaches the final few weeks - although the jockey is likely to be asking for a wage increase!
Jockeys will retire from racing on their 33rd birthday, and will only compete in races of their own Class - which means that generally the jockeys available to the "Upper Classes" (sic!) are better than those of the lower. There will be some exceptions - can you find a bargain?!
A Stable Apprentice is basically a jockey in training, and can be identified by the '(A)' to the right of their name. Each stable can have up to 2 Stable Apprentices in the stable at any time. To hire a stable apprentice, go to the "Hire a jockey" page, as described above with a real jockey. At the top of that page is the link to hire a Stable Apprentice.
Hiring a Stable Apprentice is done through an independent agency called the Jockey Recruitment Agency. When you visit, they'll ask how many candidates you would like to interview. You pay them a flat fee per candidate just to interview them, and can then choose which of the candidates you want to recruit. These candidates will be aged 19-22 years old, and have a few basic differences. It's up to you to pick which one looks the most likely prospect for your stable.
Once you recruit a Stable Apprentice, they must remain an apprentice in your stable for a minimum of 4 weeks, and up to a year (4 seasons) from the date they are recruited. It is totally your decision about when they should be granted their full jockey license.
Each week that the Stable Apprentice remains in your stable they will earn 5 'training credits' (more if you have the Apprentice Classroom Specialist Facility), which you may spend on improving their skills and experience, which will in turn improve their prestige. Stable Apprentices will also earn some extra Training Credits for each race in which they can beat AT LEAST 4 other opponents. Of course, they'll also earn experience and have morale just like a normal jockey. You can apply any Training Credits that your apprentice has earned at any time, and see the results immediately.
When training an Apprentice using the Training Credits they have earned, think carefully. Imagine that the levels of each stat are an indication of "how carefully" the jockey should consider it. You should have a definite plan of what things you want this jockey to pay attention to most of all. If you simply add training credits to make all of the skills the maximum, then the jockey is very likely to get confused, because everything going on around them is important, and so they won't be able to think clearly and plan a strategy. If the jockey has only a couple of "main" skills, then at least they (and you!) will know what is most important and therefore have an idea of how they will react. (See The Race for more information on Riding Considerations and how they apply to a race)
While they are an apprentice, you cannot expect them to perform as well as if they were a fully licensed jockey - they're still learning. However once you grant them a full license, they'll suddenly improve and realise their hidden potential and go on to be the best they can be. And in thanks for your help and nurturing they will return 10-15% of their wages to you any time they are contracted by a stable! On top of that, you will also gain prestige for your stable based on the length & success of their apprenticeship.
When you grant a Stable Apprentice their full jockey license (after at least 4 weeks, or automatically after a year), you can choose which Race Class of license you will give them, which they may improve on over their career. Of course, they will charge a higher weekly wage in the higher Classes, but maybe there will be a bigger demand for their services in the lower Classes? Gauge their prestige against the available jockeys of similar prestige in each racing class to decide where they are likely to be hired the most - therefore returning a more regularly wage to you!!
After you have promoted an Apprentice, they will make themselves available for you to hire at a greatly reduced rate - yet another benefit for your training them!
Every track in the world of Track King has a swag of unknown Apprentice jockeys who are just dying to get a ride. They don't charge much comparatively....but then they don't have any experience, and only limited ability! If for any reason one of your contracted jockeys can't make it to a race, an apprentice will step in automatically to ride for you, and will charge you for his services at the end of the day.
Apprentices, being the dumbest of all jockeys, should probably be prevented from riding in any races that you really want to excel in! One day, maybe one of these youngsters will be a candidate for someone as a Stable Apprentice....who knows. Hardly likely though!